Apr 112014
 

Hamster hair (or hamster fur) and hamster colors come in a wide variety because there are so many different species of hamsters. However, the five most popular species as pets are: the Syrian, Winter White Russian Dwarf (Djungarian), Campbell’s Russian Dwarf, Roborovski and the Chinese.

Let’s look at the hair and color of each type of hamster. You’ll surely find one that describes your hamster!

black Syrian hamster

Lucia by Heidi Terese

Syrian Fur Colors

The Syrian is by far the most popular hamster and the most varied, in terms of fur. There are also many Syrian hair colors, but they fall into two categories: the self and the agouti.

The self Syrian hamster means its entire body is the same color except in the typical spots such as chin, paws, and mustache. Typical examples are black, cream, and sable.

Golden Syrian hamster

Sydney loves to pose

 

The agouti Syrian has crescents and cheek flashes which the self doesn’t. Typical examples are grey, cinnamon or yellow, or golden.

 

 

Syrian Hair Length

Syrians have either short or long hair, and there are no Syrians with medium length hair. If you see some breeders say theirs have medium length hair, they are just tufts or a long skirt.

Generally, a long-haired female has a lengthier coat than a short haired one, and there will be some tufts on the ends of its hair. A long-haired male hamster, on the other hand, has a flowing skirt. The skirts of these long haired hamsters are lighter than the rest of its body, as it is diluted along the hair’s length.

Syrian Hair Patterns

The different Syrian hair patterns include roan, banded, and dominant spot.

  • A roan looks like a white hamster with color that is concentrated on its head, then gets lighter as it goes toward the rear of the hamster.  There can be just a little color or a lot of color, depending on the hamster
  • Banded hamsters often have a straight band of color around the middle of their bodies.
  • Dominant spot hamsters, as the name implies, has a prominent spot, or spots of color evenly spread all over their bodies. Some Syrians have just a few spots while others have so many spots they have very little white fur showing.

Russian Dwarf Hamsters: Winter White

Winter White hamster

He is so fat… by Jannes Pockele

Russian Dwarf hamsters include two main types: the Winter White (Djungarian) and the Campbell’s.

The Winter White Russian Hamster is typically dark grey with a black dorsal strip running along the center of its back. The fur on its belly is usually white or off white. Unlike other hamsters, their fur can change its color into white during winter. This was very useful when these hamsters lived in the wild. But don’t be surprised if this doesn’t happen to your Russian dwarf, as captivity may have bred this change out.

The Sapphire Russian hamster is soft purple-grey with a grey undercolor and thick grey dorsal stripe with an ivory belly. The ear hair is light grey-brown.

The Pearl Russian hamster has a white pattern with colored hairs throughout its fur.

Campbells Russian Dwarf hamster

Wallace eating on Emily’s lap” by Roban Kramer

Campbell’s Russian Dwarf Hamsters come in a wide variety of fur colors. These can include the usual grey-brown wild color, sandy with white belly, blue-grey with white belly, and black all over.

What makes them more interesting is the different types of coats they come in, including:

  • Normal: short and flat
  • Satin: shiny which makes the hamster look wet or greasy
  • Wavy: somewhat long and wavy; the coat changes to a normal coat over time; curly whiskers
  • Rex: short, soft, and curly; the coat and whiskers remain curly when they become adults
Roborovski dwarf hamster

Dave the Hamster By Philip Roberts

Roborovski

The original or typical robo will be sandy brown with a white belly. This is also referred to as agouti. You will also notice the white area over its eyes. Some people refer to these as the robo’s “eyebrows.”

The other type you might see is white faced. Obviously, this type Roborovski has a white face and body, although its body may be almost completely white or have a small tan area on its back.

Chinese hamster

nobby 2 by girlalive1

Chinese

The two most typical colors for Chinese hamsters are normal and dominant spot.

The normal Chinese hamster color is what you find when the hamster is in the wild. It is a mahogany gray-brown fur with a concentration of a darker brown color along its upper body. There may even be a stripe of black hair along its back.

The dominant spot Chinese hamster has a base white color with patches of the normal color across the upper part of its body. It may also have the stripe of black along its spine.

The Chinese hamster tail, for which they are known, is about an inch long and is hairless.

Summary

Hamsters come in all different colors. But most people pick their hamster based on its personality, regardless of color. And remember, no matter what hair color your hamster has, it’s still fun to gently pet it!

To best see your hamster hair, keep it in an aquarium cage. Read Using an Aquarium for your Hamster Cage for more information.


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Sep 042013
 

If you’re considering getting your first pet, a hamster may be the perfect way to go. Not only do they make great house pets, but also they are reasonably easy to keep, and not as expensive as dogs or cats can be.

But if a hamster will be your first pet you should know what to expect as they go through their short life. That way, you can do what you need to do in order to ensure that they have the best life possible.

How long do hamsters live?

One major fact that new pet owners will want to know is how long hamsters live on average. The actual age at which a hamster dies depends on several factors including the food that it eats, how much exercise it gets, and its general well-being.

You also need to consider that different types of hamsters live for different amounts of time. For instance, while the typical Syrian hamster may have a maximum life span of around 2 ½ to 3 years if properly looked after, a Roborovski could possibly manage around 3 to 3 ½ years. Dwarf hamsters, on the other hand, have shorter lifespans of from about 1 ½ to 2 years.

So you can expect the typical hamster to live from 1 ½ to 3 years.

To give your hamster the best possible chance of lasting a long time, it’s important that you, as an owner, care for it properly so it can stay as healthy as possible.

Young active hamsters

During the younger years of a hamster’s life, it’s usually very active and doing a lot more than when it gets older. There’s a good chance that you have already seen a YouTube video where the family hamster is in its ball or running in its wheel or climbing around hamster tubes. You want your hamster to be active so he or she can stay healthy. hamster tubes

During this stage of their life you’ll want to add different items to the hamster cage such as toys, chew sticks, and hamster tubes.

Young hamsters are usually up for playing, running around and, of course, eating. Be careful with the amount and type of food you feed your hamster. You don’t want your hamster to become over-sized very quickly. That can shorten its lifespan. For more information about hamster food, read What You Should Feed Your Hamster.

Also, in terms of human interaction, younger hamster can be trained to be friendly creatures. It is crucial that during the first years of your hamster’s life, you try to spend as much time with them as possible, as this will help them stay healthy and happy.

Signs of aging and what to look out for

Of course, after the first couple of years your hamster will begin to show some of the telltale signs of aging, and despite what you may think, they are surprisingly similar to humans.

You will notice that unlike before, while they do still enjoy playing, they spend less time doing so, and they will progressively move slower as time passes. Their appetite will also diminish suddenly during the last stages of their lives, and it may come to the point where they go full days without touching food.

However, you can do some things to help look after your aging hamster; such as holding it. For the most part, don’t force it to play, but continue making food and water available for him or her.

Hamster death 

Inevitably, at one stage or another, your hamster will die. Now while death is never a pleasant thing to think about, you can do your part to make sure that the process is as comfortable as possible for your pet, and make the struggle as painless as possible.

This mainly involves offering them healthy food and even treats to consume, regularly providing fresh water, and continuing to clean out their cage. If you do not give your hamster the appropriate amount of attention, you may be shortening its lifespan even further. Therefore, it may be a good idea to put the hamster cage in a room where the rest of the family sits, so that they get as much attention as possible.

Finally, when your hamster’s time has come, you have a few options to consider. The first is that you can bury him in your back yard as a remembrance, or you can take it to the vets to be disposed of. That’s your choice at this point, but if you really treasure your hamster’s life, and have some pictures, it might be nice to create a little memorial book.

Summary

Hopefully this article has given you some much needed insight into the life of a hamster, and how you can be the best owner possible. It is worth doing some research before deciding which type of hamster you want to own. That way you can prepare to give it the best life possible and not be surprised about how long it will live.


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Mar 162012
 

Do you need a new living environment for your hamster? Are you tired of having to buy new hamster cages? Then a hamster bin cage may be your solution. It’s an affordable yet easy way to create a habitat for your hamster.

To prepare this type of cage for your hamster, all you need is a plastic storage bin, a few basic tools, and enough patience to complete the project. Rather than spending a small fortune on a prefabricated hamster cage, you can create a wonderful hamster bin cage yourself.

 

What Is a Hamster Bin Cage?

In case you aren’t familiar with it, a hamster bin cage is simply an enclosure for your pet made from a plastic storage container. If the container doesn’t come with a lid, you should purchase a lid that fits snugly over its top.

With its convenient size and shape, a ready-made storage bin makes an outstanding hamster cage. It can allow enough floor space for your pet, whether Syrian or dwarf, while keeping costs to a minimum.

Benefits of a Hamster Bin Cage

There are numerous benefits of this type of hamster cage.

  • It can be done as a do-it-yourself project.
  • It is easy on the wallet.
  • By using a plastic storage bin that is clear or translucent, you can see in and your hamster can see out.
  • It’s unlikely that your hamster will chew through the plastic and escape.
  • Because it is a single unit, it becomes easy to lift, carry, and move around. It doesn’t require elaborate accessories or come with tubing that may dislodge or become loose.
  • Because of its height, it’s unlikely that your hammy will be able to kick bedding out the side.
  • You won’t need to be concerned about your hamster outgrowing the cage as you might with a pet store cage. If you need more room, you can add a connecting bin.
  • You have options for bin cage ventilation. You can use a mesh top, cut a space for mesh in the top of the storage unit, or drill holes in the top cover. You don’t have to worry about making mesh windows that your hamster might be able to crawl out of.

Bin Cage Dimensions

The size of the bin you build will depend on the type of hamster you have.

For one dwarf hamster you can use a smaller bin such as 18 inches long X 12 inches wide X 12 inches tall. (45.7 X 30.5 X 30.5 cm).

If you have two dwarfs, think about using a little larger bin, such as 24L X 20W X 24H inches. (61 X 50.8 X 61 cm)

For Syrians, or very active dwarfs, think about going to 36L X 24W X 24H inches. (91.4 X 61 X 61 cm)

In the U.S., these sizes may be stated in terms of quarts, with approximately the following measurements:

  • 30 quart = 18 inches long X 12 1/8 inches wide X 12 inches tall.
  • 66 quart = 24 ¾ inches long by 16 3/8 inches wide by 12 3/8 inches high
  • 71 quart = 23.3 inches length by 18.7 inches wide by 12 3/8 inches high

As with any hamster cage, you want to opt for plenty of floor space. Remember, you will still need to put in an exercise wheel, food bowl, toys, and water bottle.

Materials to Use for Building a Bin Cage

Typical materials for building a hamster bin cage include the following: Drill bits

  • Drill and drill bits
  • Utility knife, box cutter, or hacksaw
  • Picture wire, flexible wire, or twist ties
  • Wire cutters (for cutting wire mesh)
  • Wire mesh, also called hardware cloth. Get the kind with very small spaces (1/4 inch) so your hamster can’t squeeze through.
  • Glue gun
  • Nuts, bolts, and washers
  • A permanent marker

Building Your Bin Cage

Ventilation is critical! Just as when you use an aquarium for a hamster cage, you need air to circulate throughout the cage or ammonia will build up.

You need to prepare the top of the cage for ventilation. There are a few ways to go.

For wire mesh: You can tape it to the top and use it instead of a lid. The tape must be on very tightly and should not be able to be eaten by your hamster.

For wire mesh: You can cut out a space in the top lid that’s a little smaller than the amount of wire mesh you’re going to use. Then drill holes in the lid and attach the wire mesh with nuts, bolts, and washers. Some people also use a glue gun and glue to keep the mesh in place.

Wire mesh

For holes: Mark where the holes should go in the top cover, then drill using an appropriate size bit. Do not drill the holes too close together or the top lid plastic may crack. You can also drill some holes near the top of the bin sides for added ventilation.

  1. Drill holes in the bin side to attach the water bottle using ties or wire.
  2. If you want to attach a hamster tube from the side of a bin cage that can lead to another bin cage, use a marker to mark the size of the tube on the side of the bin. Then cut out the hole with a box cutter or drill with special attachment. Use the tube connector to cover any sharp edges on the hole.

Rather than drill a hole for it, use a freestanding exercise wheel.

Build a Bin Cage Videos

Here are links to You Tube videos that show how to put a hamster bin cage together.

How to: Make A Hamster Bin Cage    2:22

  • Text and slides
  • With music

Hamster Bins 101: Part 3 (Making a Basic Bin)    7:54

  • Step by step
  • With narration
  • Shows drilling

How to make a BIN CAGE for hamsters (Sarah’s Way)    9:48

  • The first minute Sarah is looking around the garage for the right tools. After she gives up on that, she goes to the hardware store and the story begins.
  • Step by step video with text titles
  • Good music!

How to make a hamster bin cage and where to get the parts in the UK        6:38

  • Specific the the UK
  • Video with narration

Safety Considerations

When using power tools to modify the cage, make sure that your hands are dry so that any tool you are using doesn’t slip. Also, working with hot glue can be dangerous and cause painful burns. Be careful. Remember, always think “safety first” and use common sense when creating your hamster bin cage.

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Mar 162011
 

Combination hamster cages made of plastic and wire have some negatives associated with them. You have to think about these before buying this type of hamster cage.

Size: Many of the basic one-story plastic and wire combination hamster habitats will not have enough space for a normal sized Syrian or Teddy Bear hamster. The plastic and wire cage complete kits usually come with an exercise wheel, a water bottle, and a food bowl. These will all take up space inside the cage. Then your Syrian will need a few toys to chew on as well as both a bedding and a bathroom area. Pretty soon your Teddy Bear or Golden hamster can be restricted to a small area inside the cage. hamster cage kit

One way to get around this is to add a second or third story or add some climbing tubes that will let the hamster get to a second cage. But that will cost more money.

Air circulation: Moving air around is a big deal in hamster cages. Hamsters need air circulation because they exercise a lot and because there are fumes from where they go to the bathroom. Both this type cage and aquariums have a problem getting enough air circulating inside the cage. If your plastic cage has a few stories with more wire bars, that would help circulate the air. But if there’s more plastic than wires, there will be less air circulation and this is bad for your hamster. Also, unless your climbing tubes have some holes in them, air won’t circulate much inside the tubes.

Cleaning: All hamster habitats have to be cleaned out every once in a while but this plastic and wire cage can be particularly tough when it comes to cleaning. You have to take the cage apart to clean it. With a wire cage you just take off the top, clean the wire bars, and then clean out the bedding in the base.

hasmter cageWith a combination hamster cage you have to do all that as well as take all the plastic tubes out of their holes. That means you have to be extra careful so none of the plastic breaks. Then, even when you get them out, you have to clean all the pieces individually. So there’s a lot more cleaning involved than with a wire cage.

Security: A wire door with a strong latch usually provides good security for keeping your hamster in its cage. A good latch is one that snaps tightly to the wire bars. Some people even use an additional wire to make sure the door stays shut. If the door doesn’t have a latch, your hamster can easily push it open.

On some combination plastic and wire cages the doors on top are just plastic. If these doors don’t have a strong latch, this is an area where even a dwarf hamster can push the door open and escape.

Also, you want to be sure there are no cracked plastic pieces when you finish putting together this type of cage. Your hamster will try to nibble on the crack to make a hole so he or she can get out of the cage.

For the positives about this cage, read Plastic and Wire Hamster Cage Positives.

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Mar 162011
 

If you pick a hamster cage made of plastic and wire it will usually have a colorful plastic top, wire bars in the middle, and a plastic base on the bottom. When you are choosing this type of cage you should think about size, set up, color, parts, and cost.

Size

Generally the plastic and wire combination cage is a little smaller than a plain wire cage. Many of these type hamster habitats are usually under 2 feet in length. Some of these cages allow you to make them bigger because they have holes on the top or the side. These holes let you connect hamster tubes that can expand the cage. You can add a lot of tubes or you can bring the tubes to second cage so your hamster can run between the cages. hamster cage

Some of these cages also let you add a second story so your hamster has an extra floor in the cage to play on.

If you’re keeping a couple of dwarf hamsters, this type cage might be good for you. But if you have one large Teddy Bear or Syrian hamster, look it over carefully to be sure he or she is going to have enough room to move around.

As with all hamster cages, you need to be sure the wire bars are close enough to keep a dwarf hamster, such as such as a Roborovski, from escaping through the bars.

Set up

These cages usually come in a box with a lot of pieces that have to be put together. So setting up this type of cage means snapping the wire parts into the plastic base, putting the plastic parts in the cage, then attaching the top and any other plastic pieces that attach to the sides or the top. This can be a big job and smaller kids may need help. hamster cage

People disagree on how easy or hard it is to put these cages together. Some people find it easy to get together while others think they are very difficult.

One problem is the plastic used for the tubing on the tops of this cage. If the plastic is thin or flimsy and you push things too hard when putting the cage together, the plastic can break. You have to be especially careful when you’re squeezing plastic climbing tubes into their holes.

One of the additional problems is that the instructions that come with these cages are often not too good. So you have to try and put the cage together by looking at the picture on the box.

One good piece of advice is to put the cage together before you buy your new hamster. That way you have plenty of time and don’t have to worry about your hamster being stuck inside an exercise ball.

Color

Although these cages are colorful to look at, keep in mind that hamsters are colorblind so they can’t see the colors. They can, however, see light and dark. So the lighter color plastic will be easier for them to see through while it will be harder for them to see through the darker colors. It will also be easier for you to see your hamster inside the cage if you get a lighter color plastic. But, to tell the truth, you don’t get to choose the colors you want for most of these cages.

Pieces and parts

Combination plastic and metal cages usually come in kits that have a lot of pieces. Because hamsters are all different, not all the pieces will be the right sizes for all hamsters. Sometimes the exercise wheels are too small for Syrian hamsters. Sometimes the water bottles leak or don’t fit well inside the cage. Sometimes the food bowls can be too tiny for all the different kinds of food you want to give your hamster.

So even if you think you’re saving money by buying a kit with all the parts, you may find you still have to buy a separate exercise wheel or a separate water bottle to fit inside these cages. These will cost extra. hamster cage

You also want to be sure that hamster tubes that are part of this cage are big enough for your regular size hamster, like a Teddy Bear, to get through. You don’t want your hamster getting stuck in the tubes. If you have dwarf hamsters, you also want to be sure the hamsters have something to grab on to so they can climb through the tubes. If the tubes are smooth you may want to put a thin branch inside the tube so your hamster can more easily climb through it.

Cost

These cages vary in cost depending on size. The taller combination cages – like three stories – usually cost around $50 and up. Medium-size cages that are one and two-stories often cost from about $25-$40. Smaller, starter cages can be found for about $25-$35. There are a few very small combination cages available for under $20. To see different cages and their costs go to the hamster cages and accessories page.

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